Avoid spending a fortune on Search Engine Advertising in B2B

There's a thin line between online B2B and B2C searches, and in SEA, this confusion can cost you. Avoid unnecessary spending with our 5 SEA tactics for B2B.

Search and you shall find. Proverbial wisdom. The place where people search the most? Why, Google of course! No less than 3,8 million searches happen every minute across the globe. And while the searching part isn’t that difficult, being found is a different matter.

Thanks to Google’s gigantic treasure of information, and the possibility to reach people while they are researching products and services, Search Engine Advertising (SEA) remains a highly effective tool in B2B advertising. With the right tactics, success is just around the corner. Read along, will you?

The challenge: staying clear of B2C searches

Through specific search terms and on-point text advertisements, you want to persuade your audience to read your content. And you know: a successful campaign starts with a good understanding of the online search behavior of your target audience.

This reveals a first challenge. B2B products and services are often closely related to what is offered on the B2C market.

For example: the search volume for “winter tires”, “the best winter tires” and “cheap winter tires” goes up in winter. Searchers are especially individuals who are looking for products and services in the B2C market.

At the same time, a B2B tire manufacturer wants to launch a big campaign promoting “winter tires”. The target audience here consists of fleet managers of transportation companies. He also sells “winter tires”, but to a B2B audience.

Keywords often are relevant both in B2B as in B2C. So, while using broad terms you might get a lot of website traffic, that traffic will leave your website the minute they find it isn’t for them.

How do you make sure your SEA campaign reaches the right audience? And how do you avoid losing a fortune on B2C clicks? These 5 SEA tactics for B2B marketing help you along the way.

1. +modified +broad +matching*

Whether or not people will see your ad after a relevant search, depends on the keyword matching in your campaign. You can set up your keywords to be very broad (i.e. a search term in all its forms, including spelling errors, related words, etc.), or you can make them highly specific (the exact search term or words that are semantically the same).

The art here is to find the right balance between broad and specific keywords. ‘Too broad’ means that your B2B ad will be clicked a lot, also by people who do not belong to your target group. ‘Too specific’ will cause that very few people will see your advertisement, only those who look up the exact keywords.

The modified broad matching technique (set up with plus-signs) are a useful middle ground to use keywords, where every one of the search term (and not some) needs to be included in the search.

Let’s try it: The search term ‘+winter +tires +trucks’ will trigger an advertisement if people google ‘buy winter tires for trucks’ or ‘the best winter tires for trucks’, while a broad term ‘winter tires trucks’ will also show ads for ‘winter tires for cars’ (so no ‘trucks’) or ‘truck tires’ (no winter)searches.

More relevant clicks = less money goes to waste

*Update April 2021 : As of from July 2021, modified broad matched keywords will no longer be available in campaigns. The phrase match keywords (used with quotation marks) will take over this function.

So, as of from July, only 3 match types remain:

  1. Broad match, to reach as much people as possible
  2. Exact match, to be very specific (only triggering your exact search term)
  3. Phrase match, to create a balance between both of the above, keeping in mind the semantics of searches

Does this mean we have to adapt all of our broad match modifiers? Luckily, the answer is no. Starting July, all keywords with plus signs will be automatically considered as phrase matches. On the other hand, you can already stop using the plus signs and start using quotation marks instead.

2. Negative search terms

You can also exclude irrelevant search terms in a negative keyword list. Keywords in this list will not trigger your B2B ad. This is especially interesting to use for search terms you know are often used in a B2C context.

Let’s try it: Add keywords such as “tire center” or car brands (BMW, Mazda, Peugeot, etc.) to your negative keyword list to avoid that your ad is seen by people who look for “the best winter tires for my bmw” or “tire center near me”.

3. Audience targeting

Combine a keyword targeting in your Search Engine Advertising campaign with an audience targeting. Google offers the opportunity to reach (only) in-market or affinity audiences.

  • In-market audiences: people searching for certain products or services
  • Affinity audiences: people who show interest in certain topics

Not sure which category your target audience belongs to? Then set the audience targeting to “observe” first. Your campaign will gather data on the target groups without getting too narrow. This allows you to test, test and test again. Are results improving? Then narrow your campaign to use only your selected audiences. In this way, you will quickly get only the most relevant clicks.

Let’s try it: To better reach your target group, set up a targeting to show your ads to people who are looking for: tires and wheels ànd commercial vehicles. This decreases the risk to lose valuable clicks to people interested in buying tires for their personal car.

4. Search Engine Advertisement copy

Your ad gets triggered by a relevant search. Does your text advertisement convince people to click and go to your content? Simply by using the right words in your text, you should be able to demonstrate that your offer is a B2B one.

Let’s try it: Mention “truck fleet” and “for your company” explicitly in your copy to make it clear that you offer B2B services. Direct consumers will be less inclined to click your ad, which may look like this:

5. Keyword bidding strategies

Finally, Google offers a number of automated bidding strategies you can select based on your KPI’s. Do you want to raise awareness for your brand, do you want as many website visitors as possible or do you want to generate leads who watch videos, download a pdf, send contact forms, etc. ?

Automated bidding strategies are available for all of these goals, increasing the chance to show your ads as frequently as possible to the most relevant people, according to Google’s algorithms.

Let’s try it: Do you want to get as much website traffic as possible from your campaign? Then set your bidding strategy to “Maximize clicks”. Google then automatically sets bids on your keywords – within your maximum budget – to generate as much clicks as possible.

Don’t want to lose control over your budget? Then select “manual CPC” to adapt bids yourself. Increase bids on well performing keywords and pause search terms that do not result in clicks. So, you free up budget for what works best!

Onwards to a successful B2B Search Engine Advertising campaign

Think about these 5 SEA tactics in your campaigns to make sure you avoid irrelevant clicks and save money. You won’t only optimize your spending, people will find the way to your offerings and content much easier. Search and you shall find indeed.

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